- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 4, 2002

NEW YORK The Bush administration finds itself at odds once again with fellow members of the U.N. Security Council about Iraq, this time over a list of goods denied to Baghdad under the U.N.'s oil-for-food program.
The United States, acting alone, has asked council members to expand a list of items typically goods that have both a civilian and military application that require U.N. permission to buy.
The dispute has derailed the routine six-month rollover of the program, which provides food and other humanitarian goods for ordinary Iraqis.
The United States said yesterday it would ask for a two-week extension of the existing program. An earlier, nine-day extension expires at midnight today.
"Many of these issues are quite technical, and we think if we have another rollover for a couple of weeks, perhaps that will give us the opportunity to resolve some of those issues," U.S. Ambassador John Negroponte after yesterday's closed-door session.
The United States squared off against fellow council members France and Russia for two months before reaching agreement last month on a Security Council resolution threatening "severe consequences" if Iraq did not cooperate with U.N. weapons inspectors.
In the latest disagreement over Iraqi imports, the United States has threatened not to approve the program's rollover unless the list of banned exports is expanded.
Here, even Washington's closest allies on the council appeared weary of the effort.
"We can go with a [two-week extension]," British Ambassador Jeremy Greenstock said yesterday, "but it will have to be the last."
Items the United States wants banned include the antibiotic Cipro, which is effective against anthrax; atropine, a nerve gas antidote; and auto-injection syringes that are typically used by soldiers to administer nerve-gas antidotes on the battlefield.
The United States also wants to block Iraqi purchases of global-positioning equipment, a useful tool in warfare.
The current list a wide-ranging assortment of chemicals, machinery and technology took nearly a year to negotiate with Russia and France.
To start the process again, diplomats say, is to rip open familiar divisions in the council less than a month after the unanimous agreement on a new weapons-inspection regime.
In contrast, the Russians say that if the list is to be reopened, they want to see some items removed.
Baghdad's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Aldouri, yesterday said the current disagreement could cause an interruption in Iraqi imports and oil exports.
"A two-week extension is just not practical," he said. "There are a lot of contracts, the exchange of notes. There are implications."
Only the full six-month reauthorization, he said, could guarantee the flow of oil.
"This is clearly a major concern for Iraq," he said. "You're playing with Iraqi lives. The people depend on that program for their lives, their food, their health."
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan yesterday warned council members to keep the welfare of the Iraqi people in mind. "The idea of the program is to help the Iraqi people," he told reporters.
"We've always maintained that our quarrel, if any, is not with the Iraqi population. The oil-for-food scheme was designed to help them," he said.

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